4 things you need to know about dummies

Yes, no, maybe, how? We’ve got answers to all your questions about dummies. By Lisa Witepski

If you’re worried that a dummy might negatively impact breastfeeding, don’t be. According to the Infant Feeding Association (IFA), there is little or no effect on breastfeeding rates between healthy term babies who used pacifiers. What’s more, non-nutritive sucking and oral stimulation may benefit premature babies before breastfeeding is established.

Moms have also relied on dummies since time immemorial to soothe fussy babies and help them fall asleep, and even provide temporary distraction during tricky moments like vaccinations. Dietician Naazneen Khan, who chairs the IFA, points out that if your child is going to suck something, a dummy is far preferable to a thumb, because thumb-sucking is a more difficult habit to break. Plus, there’s the fact that dummies may help to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

ALSO SEE: 5 things you should know about cot death 

The cons

The flipside is that dummies may be associated with middle ear infections, and if not kept clean (or if shared – eew) may become a bacterial petri dish. Added to this, the common practice of putting honey or sugar on a dummy may put your child at risk for dental cavities and a preference for sweet foods. And wearing it on a chord turns it into a strangling hazard. You also may find yourself dealing with the hard task of trying to remove what has become a crutch for your child in later years.

ALSO SEE: 6 tips for weaning baby off the dummy

The timing

Because of the reduced risk of SIDS, it’s a good idea to introduce the dummy to your baby once she’s around one month old, especially if you’re breastfeeding – but try to stop using it by the time she’s six months. Four years is regarded as the cut off point.

The selection

Make sure the dummy fits your little one’s mouth. That shouldn’t be difficult, because most manufacturers make different sizes for difference ages. Make sure the dummy is BPA free, and look for brands that have orthodontic benefits to prevent dental malalignment.

Here are some of our top dummies for little ones:

Philips Avent Classic Orthodontic Soother, R144.95. Available from Dis-Chem.

Philips Avent Classic Orthodontic Soother

Dr Brown’s Pacifier S1 PreVent, R132.95. Available from Dis-Chem.

Dr Brown's Pacifier S1 PreVent

Tommy Tippee Closer to Nature Fun Style Soother (two pack), R112. Available from Clicks.

Tommy Tippee Closer to Nature Fun Style Soother

Clicks Orthodontic Soother (two pack) R30.99. Available from Clicks.

Clicks Orthodontic Soother

NUK Genius Orthodontic Soother Size 1, R115. Available from Clicks.

NUK Genius Orthodontic Soother Size 1

More about the expert:

Naazneen Khan is a Centurion-based registered dietitian and chair of the Infant Feeding Association. Read more about Naazneen Khan here.

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